Jill Bialosky

Evokes the complexity of familial relations and the way they put their inevitable stamp upon our own future relationships.”


House Under Snow

This first novel by a celebrated American poet is a story of mothers and daughters, of sexual identity, and of a family disintegrating after the premature death of its patriarch. Anna Crane, soon to be married, reflects on her childhood in Ohio during the 1960s and 70s with her two sisters and Lilly, her charismatic, self-destructing mother. Lilly is consumed by memories of her late husband and spends her days dreamily creating paper menageries or preparing for dates with a stream of suitors. Evoking the claustrophobia of small-town life, the novel races toward a chilling conclusion when Anna is betrayed by the two most important figures in her young life.

Not since Alice McDermott’s That Night has there been such a telling portrait of first love. And not since Mona Simpson’s Anywhere But Here have we witnessed the destructive, seductive nature of a mother who insists on competing with her children.

Praise for House Under Snow

This artful first novel by the poet and editor Jill Bialosky is a quiet stepsister to Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm.”

New York Times Book Review



An elegiac novel of a father’s sudden death and its lingering effect on the family he leaves behind.”

The Washington Post

Well crafted… The book’s pacing is refreshing and brisk, and Bialosky demonstrates a remarkable ear for emotional rhythm as well.”

Chicago Tribune

Jill Bialosky proves that good things can come from poets who turn to prose. She works a poet’s sensibility into an intricately plotted novel about a mother-daughter relationship that contains a core of anger.”

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

An artfully poignant rendering of first love, a mother’s emotional fragility and the enduring bonds among sisters.”


Jill Bialosky brings a poet’s concentration of meaning to her novel House Under Snow.”


[Bialosky] understands the subtle ebb and flow of language, the way meaning arises out of sharply observed details to imbue the simplest moments with psychic weight”


Drawn with great subtlety and an almost Lawrentian poetry and sensuality… the ultimate effect of the book is to evoke a powerful sense of life’s infinite mysteries flourishing amid its squalors and terrors.”

Publishers Weekly (starred)

Perfectly captures the confusion, passion, and pain of teenage love… The characters are original and clearly defined, the story is well paced and plotted, and the writing is poetic and lyrical.”

Library Journal (starred), A Library Journal Best of Spring/​Summer, 2002 debuts

Bialosky’s haunting first novel aches with the sensitivity of a soulful girl who is discovering love, sexuality, and the pain of unsurpassable betrayal.”


Such lyrical heartache awaits the reader in this lovely first novel. Here is a poignant page-turner that reminds us of the enormity of our first love, and reveals to us along the way — with a sharp and compassionate eye — the desperation of mothers and daughters and men.”

— Suzanne Berne, author of A Perfect Arrangement

With lyrical acumen, Jill Bialosky explores a family hothouse of maternal, filial, and sexual love in which the needs and desires of a mother and her daughters become fiercely entangled. A provocative and unsettling novel.”

— Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle

This is story-telling from the toughest organ of them all, the heart, in prose distinctive as much for its music as for its muscle. Hers are characters — that witchy siren of a mother, those damaged children — who rise up out of the page to take up permanent residence in mind and memory.”

— Lee K. Abbott, author of Wet Places at Noon

Stunning for its depiction of the destructive power of love. Reading it one feels the competitive bonds between mothers and daughters, the awful echo of need and desire as it slips from one generation into the next.”

— A. M. Homes, author of Music for Torching

A passionate, sensually written tale of a daughter’s struggle to wrest free of her mother’s fitful and destructive influence.”

— Jennifer Egan, author of Look at Me

A coming-of-age story that is as wise as it is sensual. Lilly, one of the great, frightening mothers in contemporary writing, is as powerful as she is weak, and as maddening as she finally is mad. She is a nightmare figure, beautiful and terrifying, like something out of the paintings of Munch. She is impossible to forget.”

— Frederick Busch

Rarely has a mother and daughter relationship been so haunting. The dangers vibrant, sexy, and selfish Lilly pose to her memorable soulful teenage daughter are only part of what makes Jill Bialosky’s debut so astonishing.”

— Helen Schulman, author of The Revisionist

A jewel of a novel — perfectly crafted and all the more brilliant for the sharpness of its edges. The story it tells is tragic, but Bialosky’s prose is so beautifully restrained and her protagonist, Anna Crane, so resilient that this is not just a transfixing but an uplifting read.”

— Elizabeth Gaffney